DoD, HHS sign agreement on mitigating biothreats

Components of the U.S. Departments of Defense and Health & Human Services signed an agreement on Friday to synchronize current programs and future efforts meant to mitigate biological attacks or incidents.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control signed the memorandum of understanding and strategy to coordinate efforts to prevent, identify and track incidents impacting the U.S. and its allies. The agreement formalizes an established intergovernmental relationship and creates a joint steering committee.

The memorandum will help the government agencies take advantage of collective strengths, share resources, eliminate redundancies and support the Global Health Security Agenda.

"When it comes to biological threats, whether they come from nature or a terrorist's lab, DTRA/SCC and the CDC share the same goals," Ken Myers, the director of the DTRA/SCC-WMD, said. "We want to identify and eliminate the threat before it can do anyone harm, or respond to one that is already in motion. The agreement brings the DoD and HHS closer together in this vital task. This is a whole of government approach at its best, and it allows us to leverage each other's knowledge and expertise in making the world safer."

Currently, the CDC and the DTRA/SCC-WMD are collaborating to address biological threats throughout the world. Staff from both organizations started efforts with Uganda and Vietnam to strengthen local bio-response capabilities.

The agreement came one week after the first meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda. The U.S. plans to partner with more than two dozen countries as part of efforts to detect, prevent and respond to threats of infectious disease.

The SCC-WMD synchronizes efforts to combat WMDs across U.S. military geographic commands and leverages the resources of the DTRA at a strategic level.